The definition of futility in sports. The Pittsburgh Pirates. They haven't made the playoffs since before Bill Clinton was inaugurated. It's been awhile, and rebuild after rebuild has failed. Will things finally end up turning around for this franchise?
What they Have: Not much, anywhere really. There are a few bright spots on this team, one including 3B Pedro Alvarez. He hit 16 homers in 95 games last year, and has still not really come into his own yet. When he does, he'll be a good piece in the lineup. Other nice young pieces the Pirates have are CF Andrew McCutchen and RF Garrett Jones. These two combined for 37 homers last season, and McCutchen has the speed to boot. These 3 players are really the backstop for the franchise. Pitching wise, there isn't much to cheer about. They have some good pitchers like Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia, but not much else. The bullpen is not good sans Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek.
What they Don't Have: Everything else. They have no depth at the catching position, and 75% of the infield is composed of journeymen veterans who are not the answer for the Pirates. In LF, Jose Tabata didn't perform very well last season. Pitching wise, there is nowhere to go but up for a team that finished dead last in every pitching category. The rotation isn't very good, and there isn't much youth to draw from. Charlie Morton had a horrific 2010 season, and James McDonald isn't very good either. Behind Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek, there isn't much in the bullpen.
Any Help Coming? On a team like Pittsburgh, with all the futility, you'd expect the team to be brimming with great young prospects. With the Pirates, not so much. But, there are some bright spots. RHP James Taillon is one of the most regarded pitching prospects in quite some time. He's young, and has great command for his age and style. RHP Stetson Allie has made some huge strides and has become a better projected starter than a reliever. Southpaw Rudy Owens may even see the starting rotation out of spring training. He has great command, and has some good plus pitches too. The best non-pitching prospect is C Tony Sanchez has good tools both offensively and defensively, and could end up being the everyday catcher by season's end.
Outlook: About as bleak as the last 18 seasons have been. This team could be on its way, but poor drafting has set it back numerous times. New manager Clint Hurdle may inject a new tradition into the clubhouse, but there is a lot to be done on the banks of the 3 rivers.